Michigan family law attorneys have seen an increase in international child abduction, also called international parental kidnapping, in recent years. The media has also been active in publicizing international parental child abduction. One recent case was that of David Goldman’s son, Sean, who was kidnapped by his mother and taken to Brazil. International cases become quite complex, when dealing with two countries that likely have different or even conflicting custody laws.
What is the United States government doing to stop international child abduction?
The United States Department of State heads the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). This program allows parents to register their United States citizen minor child with the Passport Lookout System. If another person applies for a passport for that registered child, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, part of the Overseas Citizen Services, notifies the child’s parent or parents. If the parent or parents object to the issuance of that passport, all U.S. passport agencies, embassies, and consulates are alerted. The intent of this program is to provide advance warning of possible plans for international travel with a child. Although this system is not perfect, it has been somewhat effective in Michigan.
If international child abduction occurs, what are the laws? In Michigan, any case that deals with international parental kidnapping is controlled by the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, this applies ONLY if the country to which the child has been taken is a signatory to the Hague Convention Treaty. This convention was an effort by much of the civilized global community to address the issue of international child abduction and kidnapping. The document (treaty) generated by the convention attempted to create global standards that would govern the actions of countries in international custody disputes. The primary goal of the document is to protect “children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the state of their habitual residence.” The treaty is a complex document and when an international dispute arises in Michigan, the laws of the state of Michigan are involved together with the federal laws in the U.S.A. and then the laws of the foreign country and finally the law of the Hague Convention Treaty. It is not uncommon for litigation to occur in our Michigan court and our Federal Court and the court of the foreign country- often all at the same time.
How can I get my child back?
Certain conditions must be met before the Hague Convection can be invoked in international parental kidnapping cases. First, both countries must be signees of the convention. Second, a “Central Authority” must be appointed to handle all claims. If both these criteria have been met, then the case will have to go through the judicial processes of one (or both) of the countries involved. This can take years in some circumstances and the cost can be enormous. If both of these criteria have not been met, then the case will proceed without the benefit of the pre-established rules and procedures found in the Hague Convention. This situation can be even more volatile, lengthy, and costly.
Why choose The Kronzek Firm PLC?
We have litigated numerous cases of international parental child abduction, as well as a few cases that have dealt with international property, assets, and more. Few firms are able to offer services tailored to the international community. This is due largely to the amount of specialized education required to litigate cases in foreign countries. Our aggressive attorneys are ready to assist you with your international child abduction case.
Call us at 1-517-886-1000, or e-mail us today!